Your gut health forms the foundation of your overall health. Your digestive system is connected to everything else that happens in your body, and your gut is responsible for absorbing nutrients and guarding against foreign substances. So if you have a healthy gut, there’s a good chance that your overall health is good as well. If your gut is out of balance, however, it can have a negative effect on other functions throughout your body.
For many people, the holidays are a difficult time to stick to their healthy lifestyle. Extra stress, a hectic schedule, and rich foods can put additional strain on the digestive system and make it harder to bounce back after the holidays, just when you’re ready to recommit to your health goals. Make a plan this year to stay on track, so that you can start the new year with better overall health and more energy. These tips will help you take better care of your gut this holiday season.
Plan ahead when traveling
Traveling this holiday season? Pack healthy snacks like nuts, veggies, and fruit so that you don’t have to resort to fast food or gas-station snacks. And take your time when you eat — eating too quickly can cause gas, bloating, and indigestion.
We talk about hydration a lot. It’s key to feeling your best and helping everything in your body function properly — including your metabolism. It also helps keep your digestive system running smoothly and help avoid constipation, which can result from dehydration and sweat. Drink lots of water during the holiday season, especially if you’re drinking alcohol. A good general rule is to drink a glass of water in between each alcoholic beverage. Also drink extra water when you’re working out to replace what you lose through sweat.
Your gut likes routine and predictability. If you’re rushing around and cramming too much into every day during the holiday season, it can lead to stomach distress. Slow down and take the time to really enjoy what you’re doing and who you’re doing it with this holiday season.
Get enough sleep
Lack of sleep can be detrimental to your health and wellbeing in numerous ways. Being sleep deprived is bad for you skin, leads to lack of focus, and can make it hard to lose weight. It’s also harder on your digestive system. Sleep gives your body a chance to rest and repair, so give your body enough time to recover from your hectic holiday routine, and try to stick to a consistent sleep schedule.
Watch out for too much sugar, starchy foods, and alcohol
Sugar, starch, and alcohol can throw your gut bacteria out of balance. If you tend to indulge in these foods during the holidays, be careful not to overdo it, and take a probiotic to replenish beneficial gut bacteria. Try adding fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and kombucha into your diet, as these foods are also high in helpful probiotics.
In addition to a good probiotic, omega-3 fatty acids can also help support healthy levels of gut bacteria. If you don’t regularly eat wild-caught fatty fish such as salmon, supplement with a good omega-3 supplement.
Eat more coconut
Studies show that medium-chain triglycerides, which are found in coconut, help burn fat and provide anti-inflammatory benefits. Add more coconut oil or coconut butter to your diet. Make holiday cookies that contain shredded coconut or coconut butter, or add coconut oil to a smoothie.
Eat whole, unprocessed foods
One of the best ways to maintain a healthy gut is to make the foundation of your diet whole, plant-based foods like vegetables and fruits. When dishing out your meal, make 75 percent of your plate greens and vegetables. Cut back on sugar and processed, packaged foods.
Eat healthy fats
Good fats like omega-3s, coconut oil, and olive oil will help decrease inflammation, which helps healthy gut bacteria flourish. Avoid inflammatory fats such as refined vegetable oils.
Need help losing weight and reaching your health goals? At Garcia Weight Loss and Wellness Centers, our custom weight-loss plans are designed to address the underlying health issues that often make weight loss difficult, including gut imbalances. Contact us today for a no-cost consultation!
Medically reviewed by Jay J. Garcia, MD on December 18, 2018